16. Treat your spouse with respect and admiration in public. Whether you’re at a party, a business meeting, or just strolling down the street, give him or her subtle signals of your connection. Hold his hand. Smile at her. Put your arm around her. And never, ever, make fun of your partner in public.
17. Walk out your disagreements. When you and your partner are at odds, ask him if he’d like to go for a walk to hash things out. Being outdoors and walking at a steady pace can melt away the tension so it’s easier to talk honestly, form compromises, or apologize.
18. Learn — and use — the Serenity Prayer. When you see his towel on the floor instead of in the hamper, resist the urge to complain. While it’s understandably irritating, it will undoubtedly happen again…and again…and again. When you start to sweat the small stuff, recite the Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” You’ll be amazed at how quickly your resentment melts away.
19. Give your demands a makeover. You want him to hang a shelf? Mow the lawn? Asking her to throw in a load of laundry? Make sure you ask, rather than demand. We all tend to respond better to requests than orders. For example, instead of saying, “You should…,” say, “Could you…?” And instead of saying, “Why didn’t you…?” say, “Next time it would help me if you could try to…”
20. Try to air grievances at the same time each week. We know what you’re thinking — who would do this? But consider this: If you and your partner discuss what’s bothering you in a structured, formal way, these issues won’t come up so often at other times, and if they do, you’ll be able to discuss them more calmly. One more thing: Make the meeting formal. Sit down, turn off the television, and let the answering machine pick up calls.
21. Cuddle in the morning. You may associate snuggling with bedtime, and it is a lovely way to end the day. But cuddling in the morning will keep you feeling close to each other all day. So set the alarm clock five minutes early and snuggle. You can talk, or not. What’s important is that you both start the day connecting physically and feeling secure and loved.
22. Schedule time for lovemaking. Yes, you’re both busy. But don’t let your schedules stand in the way of an activity that’s so crucial to a loving, intimate relationship. The lovemaking may not be as spontaneous as you’d prefer, but there’s something nice about looking forward to a night (or morning, or afternoon) of sex.
23. Always turn in together. This may take some compromise on both your parts. If your partner is dead tired, give up your nightly ritual (television, surfing the Internet, whatever) and follow him to bed at least a few nights a week. Talk about the day, or simply snuggle while each of you reads. And if you’re the morning person, maybe you can stay up to watch the eleven o’clock news. The point is, you’re together when the house is quiet and the demands of the day are done. Make the most of it!
24. Make sure your bedroom is a sanctuary. Your bed is not the place to argue, or bring up complicated subjects, or discuss difficult parenting issues. Your bed is a place for good things only — sleep, companionship, romance. If it becomes a place for hard talks and critiques, one of you will eventually feel your bedroom is emotionally unsafe, and you’ll start to avoid each other. If this is already going on, you need to stop it — declare the bedroom a safe zone, and that all serious discussions are to take place earlier and elsewhere.